LANSDOWNE — One of the Democratic candidates for Delaware County Council discussed the importance of trap-neuter-and-return programs for stray cats in light of ongoing animal control issues in the county during a meeting Friday morning.
Dawn Manning, president of the Animal Friends of Lansdowne, showed Democrat Patricia Worrell how to set up a trap for feral cats in a neighborhood in Lansdowne. She said a good way for residents to determine whether a cat already has been neutered or spayed is if the cat has a clipped ear. The feral cat’s ears are usually clipped during the surgery.
Manning showed Worrell how to set up a cage to trap the cats. She suggested putting some food inside the cage and covering it with either a blanket or foliage. She said some of the cats can become adoptable after they have been neutered or spayed for about $30.
“It’s an effective process — not an end all to the problem — but it’s a great start,” said Worrell, the owner of a cleaning service business and chairwoman of the Chester Zoning Hearing Board.
Manning said it’s important to educate county residents about the benefits of trap-neuter-and-return programs. She said it’s easy to set up the traps anywhere, but suggested county residents check their municipality’s ordinances first. She said the Animal Friends of Lansdowne will be conducting an educational workshop for residents at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Lansdowne Borough Hall. Manning’s organization partners with the Spayed Club Clinic in Sharon Hill for spaying and neutering services, and Petco in Clifton Heights for adoption services.
Using estimates by the Feral Cat Project, Delaware County might have as many as 100,000 feral cats, according to Jed Grobstein, campaign manager for the Democratic countywide slate.
The animal control saga in Delaware County began a few years ago when the Delaware County SPCA announced it was becoming a no-kill facility. County council stepped in and tried to develop a plan to build a new facility to handle stray animals, but it became too expensive and the idea was eventually tossed.
Council then created an Animal Protection Board, which developed a contract with the Chester County SPCA. The board pays the Chester County SPCA $30,000 a month and bills municipalities for the services of transporting stray animals to the facility in West Goshen. The contract runs through 2017.
In recent months, there have been reports about overcrowding at the Chester County SPCA. State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, of West Whiteland, recently got involved with this issue and now the Chester County SPCA wants to expand its board of directors to include three representatives from Delaware County. County council Vice Chairman Mario Civera has welcomed the idea and said he is currently in the process of selecting three Delaware County representatives.
There are two seats up on the five-member county council in the Nov. 5 election. Worrell and Upper Providence Democrat Bill Clinton are running against Civera, an Upper Darby Republican and former longtime state legislator, and Republican county Councilman Dave White, a former Ridley Township commissioner and owner of a mechanical contractor company. Clinton is an Upper Providence councilman and a faculty member at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Worrell called the contract between the county’s Animal Protection Board and the Chester County SPCA irresponsible. She said she does not believe it’s a good idea to send Delaware County animals to Chester County where they might end up getting euthanized. She said she does not believe the deal with the Chester County SPCA is solving the animal control issues in Delaware County and described it as a “slow-motion, cost-prohibitive train wreck.”
White and Civera both said they have no problem with municipalities implementing policies that allow for trap-neuter-and-return programs for cats.
Civera said the animal control issue was “laid on our lap” and said county council initially stepped in to help municipalities after the Delaware County SPCA announced it was becoming a no-kill shelter. He said the price of building a new shelter in Delaware County would have been as high as $2.5 million. He said it’s still his desire to have a shelter, but it’s too expensive right now and the county was unable to secure any state or federal funding assistance.
“The thing that has bothered me about the Democratic slate (members) is they took a pledge not to raise taxes, but where are they going to get money without raising the taxes?” he asked.
When the Democrats kicked off their campaign earlier this month, they signed a pledge that they would not vote in favor of any county budget that includes a tax increase.
White echoed the fact that it is currently too expensive to build a shelter here in Delaware County. He said while the county put money toward the contract with the Chester County SPCA last year when the Animal Control Board was in its infancy stages, it has not put any money toward the deal this year.
White challenged the Democrats to outline what their alternative solution would be for the animal control problem.
“They can’t just say something is not working if they can’t give an alternative that works,” he said.
The entire Democratic countywide slate received the endorsement of Lansdowne Mayor Jayne Young, Swarthmore Mayor Rick Lowe and Yeadon Mayor Dolores Jones-Butler on Friday.
“Today, we endorse the Delaware County Democratic ticket for their strong commitment to small business growth, leadership and transparency,” the Democratic mayors said in a joint statement.
The three mayors also lauded the Democratic candidates for their commitment to trap-neuter-and-return programs.
“This common-sense, low-cost initiative will finally provide a blueprint for Delaware County government to address an issue that has been plaguing this county for years,” the mayors said.
The Republican countywide slate has picked up its share of endorsements in recent weeks. The entire slate received the endorsement of the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council. White and Civera recently picked up the endorsement of Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals.